When it was announced earlier this year that the Academy would expand the Best Picture category to ten nominees, my first thought was that the year's best film, The Hurt Locker, actually has a chance to get nominated. Now it has been winning critics' awards and turning up on nearly every top ten list, very often at #1. It seems to be the movie of choice for both highbrow and mainstream film critics, which is part of its charm. Lately I started thinking that even if the category were only five, The Hurt Locker might have a chance to get a nomination, and now it seems like it might even have a chance to win.
But then I think back to 2001. At the end of the year, David Lynch's Mulholland Drive was the clear critics' favorite, just as The Hurt Locker is this year. And, indeed, Mulholland Drive has gone on to become the clear critics' favorite of the decade as well. Unfortunately, that did not mean it was an automatic shoo-in for a nomination. It received only one nomination: for Best Director. That should have been a clear indicator. The directors who nominate their fellow directors in that category recognized precisely what Lynch had achieved, even if the body of the Academy as a whole could not. Of course, Lynch lost, to -- of all people -- Ron Howard. His A Beautiful Mind, a film I hated, won Best Picture. Incidentally, A Beautiful Mind is nowhere to be seen in those same end-of-the-decade polls. It has already become irrelevant.